Chappaquiddick: The Real Story

James Lange, Author, Katherine DeWitt, With
James Lange, Author, Katherine DeWitt, With St. Martin's Press $21.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-312-08749-4
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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Declaring Sen. Edward Kennedy ``the living victim of Chappaquiddick,'' the authors present an interesting, if slight, analysis of the many interpretations of the 1969 automobile accident that resulted in the drowning of Kennedy's passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. Washington, D.C., lawyer Lange and copywriter DeWitt first present, in telegraphic prose, mini-biographies of Kennedy and Kopechne. Following these is an unsourced chronology of the complex skein of events surrounding the July 18-19 incident, including Kennedy's failure to report the accident until the following day, and his plea of guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. Then, more valuably, the authors criticize conspiracy-theorists who claim, for example, that the accident was engineered to keep Kennedy out of the White House or that Kopechne was already dead when Kennedy drove off the bridge. They suggest that Kennedy's version was basically true, and that he and his aides delayed reporting the accident mainly to protect him from appearing emotionally rattled in public. They acknowledge that certain public officials--i.e., police investigators, a judge--behaved unprofessionally in order to help Kennedy, but argue that none did so in return for favors. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
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